Death and Rebirth: The Phoenix

Joseph Dispenza

Here in Mexico, we are preparing for the year’s most remarkable celebration: the annual feast at the beginning of November of Day of the Dead. This may sound at first like a rather somber affair, but it is just the opposite. Spread over two days, it commemorates family members who have gone before and celebrates their birth into the world of spirit.

During this time, death itself is extolled as the passage that makes possible the transformation to new life. Skeletons, coffins, and skulls made of sugar candy are sold everywhere in the streets, along with bunches of fresh and fragrant marigolds, the flower of the dead. Families camp around the graves of their ancestors in the old cemeteries, and visit with them through the night, in what is surely the most complete of all family reunions.

We have in the myth of the Phoenix an archetype that represents the same amazing, magical process of going from death to life.

The Myth

The phoenix bird symbolizes immortality, resurrection and life after death. In ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, it is associated with the sun god.

According to the Greeks, the bird lives in Arabia, near a cool well. Every morning at dawn, the sun god would stop his chariot to listen to the bird sing a beautiful song while it bathed in the well.

Only one phoenix exists at a time. When the bird felt its death was near, every 500 to 1,461 years, it would build a nest of aromatic wood and set it on fire. The bird then was consumed by the flames.

A new phoenix sprang forth from the pyre. It embalmed the ashes of its predecessor in an egg of myrrh and flew with it to Heliopolis, ‘city of the sun,’ where the egg was deposited on the altar of the sun god. > Read more about The Phoenix

Personal Transformation in Your Life

The ancients conceived of the Phoenix as a reminder to us that we have the power to re-create ourselves when it becomes clear that the ‘old’ is not working anymore. You’ll remember the definition of madness: to do the same thing in the same way, and expect a different outcome. Phoenix energy gives us the opportunity to put an end to the old way of doing things, and the old ways of regarding ourselves, and enter into a new place where we can create ourselves a fresh and dynamic person.

Motivational speaker Linda McNeil has created a quiz for us to find out if we are ready to change. Take a few minutes to find out. Answer each of the following questions yes or no and jot your answers down on a piece of paper, or in your journal; don’t analyze, just respond.

  1. Have you ever considered the impact of your life choices on your present circumstances?

  2. Are you willing to choose differently in order to change your life?

  3. Are you now experiencing some type of personal, professional or financial ‘pain’ in your life?

  4. Are you able and willing to ask for help?

  5. Will you accept responsibility for new life circumstances and results?

  6. Are you able to persist, day in and day out, to create new results in your life?

  7. Do you know how to let go of your old ways of doing, being and thinking to start a new way?

  8. Are you aware of what really makes you happy?

  9. Do you sometimes find yourself acting as a victim or martyr when difficulties arise?

  10. Are you surrounded by positive, supportive people who will share your dream with you?

If you answered yes to at least five of the above questions, you are ready for personal transformation!

Using the Phoenix as Your Guide

Just as the Phoenix rose from the ashes of its former self, you can resurrect yourself as a new person. You may feel that the old ways are not working anymore, and you want to create new ways. You have the power to do this in all areas of your life. You just need to take the first step. And, while you are contemplating the necessary changes that will bring about a new you, remember to sift through the ashes of the past, as the new Phoenix did, to see not only what you would like to discard, but also what you would like to keep.

Meditation Idea

The color of the Phoenix is RED, so when you are contemplating your changes, wear red, look at the color red, imagine red. It will help put you in touch with this ancient archetype.

Footnote: in our culture, we have transposed the Phoenix into the Stork, which brings babies — it is the same idea…the bird that brings new life.

Recommended Reading

7 Keys to Changing – Your Life, Health and Wealth
by Linda McNeil

This is a powerful attitude book on change–from the inside out! It offers seven proven tools for losing weight, stopping smoking, improving health, and moving from debt to wealth. The author has lost 1/3 of her body weight and kept it off for more than 18 years. She nearly spent herself into bankruptcy, battled addiction, fought dangerously high blood pressure, suffered two unhappy marriages, and was driven to “succeed.” After understanding that true change can come only from the inside out, Lin has turned her life around personally and professionally. Each of the 7 keys (based on the acronym CHANGES) is followed by workbook questions and space for the reader to truly make the process personal. Learn how to change for real, for good!


Chiron: The Wounded Healer as Mentor

Chiron (pronounced KAI­ron) was the son of the Olympian god Kronos, who took on the form of a horse when he made love to Philyra, a sea nymph. Their union brought forth a centaur, a being with the head and upper body of a man, and the lower body of a horse. He taught young Asklepios the art of healing. Asklepios was the teacher of Hippocrates — the Father of Medicine.

At birth, Chiron was rejected by his mother. But the great god Apollo adopted the child and schooled him thoroughly in the arts, sciences, and mysteries that he would need to rise above his beast nature. He lived alone in a cave and over time earned a reputation as a great healer, astrologer, prophet, and teacher. Chiron was unable to treat an incurable wound in his own knee which he had suffered through an arrow. He was, therefore, known as the ‘wounded healer.’

Chiron had many illustrious students: Achilles, the mighty Greek warrior in the battle at Troy; Asklepios, the herbalist and surgeon whose serpent entwined staff is the familiar emblem of the modern medical profession; and Hercules, the immortal hero. Chiron prepared Hercules to successfully accomplish his twelve labors — heroic acts which symbolize the challenges facing each of us on our spiritual path. Chiron was also the teacher of Jason, who recovered the Golden Fleece. Chiron told Jason which stars to steer by to attain this timeless treasure.

As an archetype, Chiron embodies key a lesson for today: how to link the daily concerns of life (paying the rent, washing the laundry, getting around in the world, and so forth) with the more profound spiritual realities — and then sharing what we learn with others. Chiron thus symbolizes the ability to establish a working bridge between the realm of the earth and the realm of Spirit.

Consider Being a Mentor

Mentors encourage others — and their presence is needed now more than ever in our homes, communities and workplaces. For many people these days, demands are increasing, feelings of isolation are common and worries abound about looking foolish for ‘not knowing the best ways to proceed’ in unfamiliar territory. Whether in our personal or professional lives, the benefit of a mentoring relationship is being able to obtain advice, learn, as well as make mistakes in a safe and supportive environment.

Counselor Pam Howard says that ‘the mentoring relationship is interdependent with the acts of giving and receiving, teaching and learning, flowing both ways.’ By mentoring others, we become aware of the limits of our own knowledge and are stimulated to continue to improve ourselves. Effective mentoring relationships are those in which both parties benefit.

The opportunities are endless when you are willing to share your knowledge and life lessons with others. Consider options such as:

  • mentoring children and students through programs with community organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, sports groups, and specialized services within schools…

  • providing direction and support to a young, single parent dealing with multiple responsibilities and limited resources…

  • assisting a college or university student to increase their knowledge of realities within your field of work…

  • guiding a younger worker within your organization in choices affecting their professional development…

  • serving as a mentor for a friend who is dealing with unfamiliar territory as they go through a major life change…

  • helping someone on a spiritual quest or undergoing a spiritual challenge, offering your own experience as a way of assisting them on their path.

Be guided in your mentoring by the spirit of Chiron, which was animated by an openness to learning, humility, self-acceptance, integrity, kindness and non-judgement, patience and perseverance, and simplicity.

Like Chiron, we all are wounded. Like Chiron, too, we can become healers out of our wounds, helping others to cross bridges that we, with effort and grace, have crossed before.

Suggested Reading

Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul
by Clare Dunne

What is not integrated from the unconscious casts itself outward as our fate.
C. G. Jung

Deftly interweaving letters and commentary with an extraordinary array of 150 ancient and contemporary images, including three of Jung’s paintings from his private journal, the unpublished ‘Red Book,’ Dunne helps readers grasp Jung’s insight that the divine contains both light and dark, and that — as a 79-year-old Jung wrote — ‘A complete life does not consist in a theoretical completeness, but in the fact that one accepts, without reservation, the particular fatal tissue in which one finds oneself embedded.

Tao Mentoring: Cultivate Collaborative Relationships in All Areas of Your Life
by Chungliang Al Huang, Jerry Lynch, Laura Archera Huxley

A beautiful, clear book about friendship, learning, teaching, growing — about life. There is joy in these pages, and love, much much love.

John Robbins, founder of EarthSave and author of Diet for a New America and May All Be Fed

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